Word Count: 489
By Peg Scarano
It was mid-June. The doors and windows were open to let in the fresh summer breezes. The two older girls were finishing up their last days of school. It was a little after one and Emily was watching the Wizard of Oz for probably the 157th time. She would always don her blue Dorothy dress, put her little stuffed dog in a small wicker basket and drag her large stuffed lion into the living room so they could watch together.
Since she was content, I decided to vacuum and mop my kitchen floor. I filled the bucket, squeezed out the mop and began by the back door. Did you ever have the feeling someone was watching you? I slowly lifted my eyes to look up and not a foot away from my face was a ragged raccoon, standing on his hind legs, his face flat against the screen, staring at me with wide, shiny, glazed eyes. I grabbed the inside door and slammed it shut! “Mommy! Why did you slam the door?” Emily exclaimed in fright. “It’s OK, honey. It was an accident.”
I snatched the phone to call my neighbor as I ran through the house looking out windows on my way to close the front door. She went to her window and saw him between our two houses…staggering! I asked her to keep an eye on him while I called the police. You might think this was an overreaction, but the other kids would be walking home from school shortly. What if they ran into him?
Compared to my turmoil, the police were calm, cool and collected – a little too nonchalant for me. I patiently gave them my name and address and an approximation of the raccoon’s location and told him my neighbor was trying to keep an eye on him. When I mentioned the neighborhood kids would be walking home from school shortly, they stepped it up.
The dispatcher stayed on the phone as I told her the raccoon was staggering down our street and headed left on Argonne Place. Once he went out of my sight, my hands were tied. I got brave enough to stand on the front porch and watch diligently for any sign of the raccoon and for the kids to come down the street.
As I looked up the street I saw all five kids round the corner. My heart was still beating double time. I ran to the sidewalk and yelled to them to race to my porch. My next door neighbor dashed over to take her two kids safely home while I quickly herded Alexis, the little girl from across the street, and my two into the house. The three of them wanted to know who won the race and what the prize was. They had no idea of the looming threat.
A moment later I heard a gunshot echo up the hill that made my skin crawl.